All In

A few weeks ago, I went to meet my girlfriendís parents and I went to her church to make her mother happy. It was a bit smaller than the one I went to growing up. It had four deacons instead of twelve. The number of deacons seems like a good indicator of church size. But I digress. The message of the day was to make your life ďall inĒ for Jesus. The preacher argued that people need to be more Christian in their everyday lives.It is not enough to go to church once a week and then go off and do whatever you want while wearing a necklace with a cross on it. The cross should not be a symbol but a lifestyle. You must deny yourself completely and follow Jesus. You must not hold back. Go all in on God.

The obvious message is that Jesus is the poker equivalent of a royal flush. It is impossible to improve upon and you should bet all your life and resources on it because it cannot lose. Okay. That makes sense if Jesus is the royal flush. But what if heís not? What if he is nothing? Then the preacher is encouraging everyone to throw their life away for a mirage. The thing that really upsets me is that this is not a one-time gamble. It is not just ďYouíre dead but Heaven isnít real.Ē When you go all in on God, you lose day after day after day after day.

You lose because you donít have a foundation in causality. Everything is made up. There is no consideration for what works or doesnít work. There are no fixes for health problems, money problems, anxiety about a purpose in life, etc. There is one solution for everything: close your eyes, talk to yourself, and make something up. And you canít be wrong. Because itís from God. And heís perfect. And it feels right. Also, believe what the crowd and the leaders make up, because itís right for the same reason. Unless you make up something else that you feel really strongly about. Then declare everybody else to be heretics.

It is interesting to see the results when made-up ideas clash, build on top of each other, and split apart. I remember a scene from Big Love, a TV drama about a Mormon fundamentalist family living with plural marriage. A character felt a calling to a leadership position in her church. Her husband told her that women cannot hold such a position because their divinely-inspired doctrine says that they canít. Meanwhile, they are both being persecuted by mainstream Mormons because of their polygamist beliefs. Meanwhile, other Christians laugh at the mainstream Mormons because Joseph Smith claimed to have found scripture on gold plates he dug up. Meanwhile, Christianity in general has changed and split many times based on made-up doctrines in the 2000 years since Jesus made up some changes to Judaism, which is so old that itís hard to know when or how it was made up.

So to recap, the TV show character and billions of real people spend hours in worship and prayer every week, where they end up with millions of different conclusions about what is right in life and what others should believe and do. While they do so, nothing is learned, nothing is gained, nothing is improved, no one is fed, no burden is lifted, no one thinks, and no one lives. My girlfriendís preacher thinks that you should go all in on made-up ideas. I think that you should understand cause and effect. Play your cards right.